Monday, October 12, 2009

A Lesson from Netzahualcoyotl

Throughout my years I am learning many insightful and personal lessons, as I assume and hope most of us continue all our lives. I have been trying to connect various feelings and thoughts to better understand why we have the today's world situation and what my role is within it. So many things have surged here in Mexico from my conversations, relationships, readings, observations etc.

Today I went to the Baths of Netzahualcoyotl, an archeological site from 15th century Aztec empire. This site, 10 minutes outside of Texcoco, is not well known and is somewhat hidden here in Mexico. The site is build on a mountainside and contains a number of baths, fountains and gardens where king Netzahualcoyotl and his kingdom retreated to relax. Disbursed around the ruins you find occasional signs with poetry written by king Netzahualcoyotl, also known as one of Mexico's greatest poets. Here is one of his poems:

Yo lo pregunto

Yo Nezahualcóyotl lo pregunto:
¿Acaso de veras se vive con raíz en la tierra?
Nada es para siempre en la tierra:
Sólo un poco aquí.
Aunque sea de jade se quiebra,
Aunque sea de oro se rompe,
Aunque sea plumaje de quetzal se desgarra.
No para siempre en la tierra:
Sólo un poco aquí.

I ask him

I ask Netzahualcoyotl:
Is it true that one lives with roots in the earth (or only here on earth)?

Nothing if forever on this earth:
We are only here temporarily.
While its jade it splits,
While its gold it breaks,
Wile its a quetzal feather, it rips,
Nothing is forever on this earth:
We are only here temporarily.

The reason I am pointing this out in relation to the many life lessons I have been learning is that the King Netzahualcoyotl knew something very important that we have forgotten today, that we, along with everything else, are perishable and temporary, that we are a part of this world (and have not and will not surpass it) and part of the nature we inhabit. Could this disconnect that we have today be the reason that we now wage war for the economic benefit of our country, that we exploit and kill our workers and environment across the world in the name of profit margins, that we no longer eat food but composites of derivatives of food? We have completely disconnected ourselves with the earth from which we have come and from the reality that we are tiny specks of nothing in the life cycle and existence of this world. We are part of the earth, not owners of it.

Why do we think it is ok to continually take and take from the earth? Societies once took from where there was excess and gave where there was need. We have let the insatiable huger of our egos take over. The joke is that once you permit this to happen, your ego is never satisfied, it wants more, at whatever cost. This has lent the development of our world today to abusive transnational corporations, to the industrialization of the agro-food system and to the deep disconnect of real and profound relationships with one another and with nature.

I'm not going to make any conclusions with this, but rather leave it open for you to think about an explore.

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